Are you a superhero teacher? Well, what about a good teacher with superpowers? Personally speaking, I rather be the latter. Here’s my list of superpowers, which I’m constantly developing. By no means does this imply that I have the magic formula. However, this is a list I use to remind myself that teaching requires constant reflection and development. Some days, ALL of the superpowers are working; and, some days ALL of the superpower software needs an update. Here are the seven superpowers I call: iGradeU.
1. Introspectiveness: The ability to look at one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings.
It’s always easy to blame someone else in the school building for any, and every, reason. However, the first person you must ALWAYS question is yourself. For example, if a lesson falls flat and student misunderstanding runs high, you MUST ask yourself “how can I deliver this lesson better the next time?” If your classroom culture has taken a negative turn, you MUST ask yourself “what can I do to turn it around?”
2. Grit: The ability to prove unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.
There will definitely be moments or days when you will feel defeated. It’s in these moments that you MUST persevere. Regardless of the situation, you must rebound with a positive and focused plan of attack. For example, if you have difficulty making connections with a student, then continue to try different avenues to reach him or her. The most difficult students are often the hardest to win over, but, once they do, they can become the most loyal.
3. Resiliency: The ability to become successful again after something bad happens.
Undoubtedly, something can, and will, go terribly wrong during the school year. For example, you will definitely have “bad teacher” moments. It’s important to remember that these moments are opportunities to build your teacher character. You MUST dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and give it your all the next day.
4. Adaptability: The ability to change or be changed to work better in some situation or for some purpose.
You must adapt to your school’s environment. There will ALWAYS be too many meetings, too many deadlines, too many “things to do”, and NEVER enough time to do them all. You must adapt to the nature of the job. Remain flexible and prioritize! ALWAYS remember Muhammad Ali’s famous saying, “float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee.”
5. Determination: The ability to continue trying to do something that is difficult
Focus on completing a goal, or set of goals, by the end of the school year. Set realistic professional goals for yourself. Never underestimate the power of achieving small victories throughout the school year. Just like a teacher scaffolds a do now or an activity to help boost student confidence, you MUST scaffold your professional goals as well.
6. Empathy: The ability to understand or share another person’s feelings
You MUST have high expectations for EVERY student, but if you don’t possess empathy then you are nothing but a dictator. Teachers are not cold or callous. You MUST try to understand each student’s point-of-view if you wish to make connections beyond the classroom experience. Teaching is more than warm ups and exit slips. In many ways, you will become your students’ surrogate mother or father. Treat them with the respect that you would, or do, treat you own children.
7. Uniformity: The ability to conform to one principle, standard, or rule; Consistency.
One of the most under-rated aspects of classroom and school culture is consistency. You MUST guard against inconsistency in every aspect. For example, rewards and consequences MUST be delivered with fairness and consistency, regardless of the student. Expectations MUST be the same, regardless of the differentiated product. The most ineffective teachers are also the most inconsistent.
It’s a bird… It’s a plane…No, it’s a teacher with superpowers!